What Is a Home? Where Is Your Home?


The definition of a home

Where are you from? Because of my work (overseas sales), I’ve exchanged this question many times with many people around the world. There have been many people living outside their countries of origin. Some of them said they would be back after retirement; others said they would stay out there for the rest of their lives. Every time this question comes up in conversation, I’ve got more and more interested and come to think deeply about the definition of a “home.” Is it a place where you were borne, you lived longest, or your parents live? How do you define it? Where are you from?

A home is a place to go back to

By the way, do you like TED talks? I do and one day happened to find a good definition of a “home” in one of them thrown by Pico Iyer. He is ethnically Indian; was born in England in 1957 and grown in California since he was seven; has lived in Japan since 1992. Probably because of his moving-place-to-place background, he would have got interested in a “home,” I guess. In his TED talk, while mentioning where you are going is much more important than where you are from, he said a “home” is not where you happened to be born but where you become yourself, and that movement has a meaning only when you have a “home,” a place to go back to.

An image of beautiful scenery. It's a snow field in Hokkaido in the middle of winter.

My home is Hokkaido

Totally different from him, I was born and grown in the same single place, here in Hokkaido the northernmost part of Japan, until I was 22. After graduating from university, I had moved around Japan for about 15 years, and so, his point makes sense to me. During the 15 years outside Hokkaido, I often had a dream of snow scenes. It was a snowy, frozen, but beautiful landscape that I hoped at that time to see at the last moment of my life. Yes, I think Hokkaido is definitely my home, a place where even my soul goes back to.

A place to long for from a distance

This article would be beautiful if it ended up in the previous sentence, but the reality is always harsh. To be honest, I’m now already fed up with a lot of snow and crazy coldness here. Regarding the definition of a “home,” it seems like “the grass always looks greener on the other side” is more convincing to me, but, as this may sound like an excuse, Hokkaido is a good place to visit. I’m looking forward to your visit after the COVID pandemic!

Shungo Ijima

He is travelling around the world. His passion is to explain Japan to the world, from the unique viewpoint accumulated through his career: overseas posting, MBA holder, former official of the Ministry of Finance.